Budget Transparency

Transparency, and the accountability that follows, is necessary for state's to fix their fiscal problems.  Citizens should now demand ready access to state and local government budgets, regulations, contracts, and contacts.  Absent transparency, there is far greater risk of continued failure, corruption, fraud, waste and regulatory abuse.

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    • HEADLINES: California

      CalPERS to disclose retiree pensions on website

      The Sacramento Bee | by Jon Ortiz | July 9, 2013

      The database will provide retiree information that is considered public: pensioners' names, their monthly gross pension payment, their base allowance, the Cost of Living Adjustment, their years of service, when they retired, their pension benefit formulas, final compensation and last employer.

    • HEADLINES: Washington

      State lawmakers prepare for swift budget vote | June 28, 2013

      Washington lawmakers hurried Friday to vote on a new state budget totaling $33.6 billion, just hours after making it available to the public.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California's budget bill would gut sunshine law

      Sacramento Bee | by Dan Walters | June 21, 2013

      A state budget "trailer bill" now awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown's signature would eviscerate the California Public Records Act, a long-standing "sunshine law" that allows the press and public to access most state and local government documents.

    • HEADLINES: California

      Budget could limit public's access to government documents

      The Los Angeles Times | by Anthony York | June 19, 2013

      Gov. Brown is ready to sign a budget that would allow local officials to opt out of some provisions of the Public Records Act as a way to save money, drawing protests from California newspapers.


      State Budget Transparency: A Look Behind the Numbers

      RealClear Markets | by Tracy Gordon | June 19, 2013

      Most states are now wrapping up their 2013-2014 budget cycles, and apparently they're in good shape too. But thanks to the lack of budget transparency, state and local governments are estimated to owe up to $4 trillion more than they have set aside for pensions and retiree health care.

    • HEADLINES: California

      New California State Budget Creates Controversy

      NBC-7 San Diego | by Chris Chan | June 17, 2013

      A new California state budget means more money for schools, but the estimated budget surplus of more than $1 billion is causing some controversy over government accountability.

    • HEADLINES: Michigan

      See details of Michigan's $49.5B state budget | by Tim Martin | May 30, 2013

      It will soon be Gov. Rick Snyder’s turn to officially sign off on Michigan’s next state spending plan for schools and state departments.

    • HEADLINES: Florida

      Education Budget "Turkeys" Include College Buildings, Charter School Database

      State Impact | by Gina Jordan | May 17, 2013

      "What we're looking for is that they followed the established budget processes, that the things that were funded were subject to public scrutiny," said TaxWatch's Robert Weissert.

    • HEADLINES: Florida

      Pet projects may face Governor Rick Scott's veto pen

      The Miami Herald | by Michael Van Sickler | May 13, 2013

      From alligator marketing to rowing centers, the state budget has millions of dollars aimed at lawmakers' pet projects. The governor has until May 24 to approve or veto them.

    • HEADLINES: Pennsylvania

      Harrisburg Hit by SEC Fraud Charges

      Wall Street Journal | by Kris Maher and Michael Corkery | May 8, 2013

      The Securities and Exchange Commission has put local government officials on notice that it is closely monitoring the way they describe their cities' fiscal health, charging Harrisburg, Pa., with securities fraud for allegedly failing to disclose information on its financial troubles.

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      Federal Aid to the States 2008-2011

      by Kristen De Pena | February 21, 2013

      It is well understood that the federal government must make spending cuts-these cuts will most likely drastically change the amount of federal dollars that are allocated to the states. Unfortunately for most states, dependence on federal funding has continually risen since 2008.


      Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Kathryn Dominguez & Matthew Shapiro | February 4, 2013

      Was the slow recovery of the U.S. economy from the trough of the Great Recession anticipated? 


      State Budget Crisis Task Force Report

      State Budget Crisis Task Force | by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker | July 17, 2012

      State finances are not transparent and often include hidden liabilities as well as rapidly growing responsibilities which are difficult to control.  While state revenues are gradually recovering from the drastic decline of the Great Recession, they are not growing sufficiently to keep pace with the spending required by Medicaid costs, pensions, and other responsibilities and obligations.  This has resulted in persistent and growing structural deficits in many states which threaten their fiscal sustainability.

    • RESOURCES: Connecticut

      $100k Pension Club Includes 299 State Retirees

      In 2008, 175 former Connecticut state employees received pensions worth at least $100,000. That number rose to 299 people in 2009 and is expected to continue rising.

    • RESEARCH: Minnesota

      At a Crossroads

      Are students learning the things they need to know? Is there a healthy exchange of ideas? Are trustees upholding the public trust? Are taxpayers getting a good value for their money? These are the kinds of questions to which the people of Minnesota deserve answers. It is the goal of this report card to provide answers and to help Minnesota—a state rightly known for its passion for education—be a national standard bearer for excellence, accountability, and efficiency in higher education.


      How Reality-Based Budgeting Can Permanently Resolve State Budget Gaps

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | November 7, 2012

      State Budget Solutions recommends that state legislators take action in 2013 to resolve the serious state financial crises by changing their focus from inputs to outcomes by redesigning budgets from the ground up based on priorities and performance.

    • SOLUTIONS: North Carolina

      A Blueprint for Budget Reform

      Civitas Institute | by Brian Balfour | September 12, 2012

      The ongoing state budget "crisis" strongly underscores the urgent need for North Carolina to adapt significant state budget reforms, including putting North Carolina taxpayers back in charge of approving new debt, and forcing legislators and state agencies at reasonable intervals to justify all spending, not just spending increases.


      Transparency Key to Fixing State Budget Crises

      by Mike Barnhart | March 12, 2012

      Transparency, and the accountability that follows, is necessary for state's to fix their fiscal problems.  Citizens should now demand ready access to state and local government budgets, regulations, contracts, and contacts.  Absent transparency, there is far greater risk of continued failure, corruption, fraud, waste and regulatory abuse.


      Creating a New Public Pension System

      The Laura and John Arnold Foundation | by Josh B. McGee, Ph.D. | December 5, 2011

      Sound pension reform meets four general criteria: (1) establish transparency with respect to the true cost of the benefits promised to public employees; (2) mandate that the pension plan sponsor pay the full cost of accrued benefits each year; (3) mandate that the pension plan sponsor pay down the unfunded accrued liability over a reasonable time horizon and (4) improve the generational equity, portability and security of benefits for public employees.

    • SOLUTIONS: South Carolina

      The South Carolina state budget is a mystery. What can be done about it?

      The South Carolina Policy Council | December 2, 2011

      The South Carolina state budget should be more transparent. There should be one document showing the exact amount lawmakers appropriated in a given year and the budget should reveal where all money is coming from.  The budget should list every program each agency is running, how much that program is receiving, and a description of the program.


      Statewide Transparency/Spending Web Sites and Legislation

      National Conference of State Legislatures | July 20, 2011

      At least 34 states have passed legislation--often called Taxpayer Transparency Acts--requiring a centralized, searchable website that provides information to the public about state expenditures or state contracts.  They can all be found here.

    • SOLUTIONS: Texas

      2011 Texas Budget Solutions

      The Texas Public Policy Foundation provides a host of potential budget solutions for the 2011 Texas state budget. Their solutions cover a broad range of categories from education to tax policy. Take a look!

    • SOLUTIONS: Texas

      Make the Budget Process More Transparent: HB 2804 and SB 1653

      The Texas Public Policy Foundation | April 1, 2011

      Over the long term, one of the most important reforms the Legislature can enact to promote fiscal responsibility is to make the appropriations process more transparent.

    • SOLUTIONS: New Jersey

      The Crisis in Public Sector Pension Plans

      Mercatus Center | by Eileen Norcross, Andrew Biggs | February 11, 2011

      Case study of New Jersey's five public pension plans and exploration of possible solutions, including shifting all newly hired employees to a defined contribution pension model based upon the plan already offered to New Jersey's university employees and continuing current reforms lowering pension replacement rates and, if possible, extended to current employees.


      Performance Audit Tools for Higher Education

      by Harry Stille | January 28, 2011

      The time has come for openness and accountability in post-secondary education. The best way to achieve this is through performance audits, which look at all facets of an institution-from student input/outcome data to faculty process data to all aspects of financial data. This project is to develop areas of process for a Performance Audit Guide used to evaluate how public (and/or private) institutions use student, public, and donor funds to meet the institutions' primary missions.

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